Aaron Edward “A. E.” Hotchner (June 28, 1917 – February 15, 2020) was an American memoirist, novelist, playwright and biographer. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Hotchner graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in both history and law. He briefly practiced law, then served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Because of his experience writing plays and musicals in college, the Air Corps assigned him to write a musical for the benefit of war widows, before going into officer training school, and then anti-submarine command, where he was eventually assigned to make a film about the command. When the war was over, he decided to forgo the law and pursue a career in writing.
In 1948, Hotchner was sent on assignment to solicit articles from many well-known writers, including Ernest Hemingway, who invited Hotchner to meet, and the two became close friends until Hemingway’s death in 1961. Hotchner is well-known for Papa Hemingway, his 1966 memoir/biography of Hemingway, whose work he exclusively had adapted for plays and television. His play Sweet Prince was produced off-Broadway in 1982 at the Theater Off-Park. King of the Hill, Hotchner’s evocative memoir of his childhood in St. Louis during the Great Depression, was made into a film in 1993, by director Steven Soderbergh.
Over the years, Hotchner also wrote biographies of Doris Day and Sophia Loren, as well as many novels, memoirs, nonfiction books, stage plays and teleplays. He founded Newman’s Own, Inc., with his friend and neighbor, actor Paul Newman, in 1982, and remained active with the corporation, which donates 100% of its profits to charities.
Hotchner’s later books included Hemingway in Love (2015), a shorter memoir on Ernest Hemingway, and The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom (2018), a novel set in 1930s St. Louis. In 2017, Washington University interviewed Mr. Hotchner at his home, and in 2018 Special Collections turned it into a series, called Hotch at 100. In these videos, Hotchner recounts some of the major events and settings of his life, interspersed with historical images and scans from the A. E. Hotchner Papers.